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NFL: Former Oklahoma star Ryan Broyles making most of opportunity created by Nate Burleson’s injury

Ryan Broyles starred at Norman High and OU, where he became the NCAA’s all-time receptions leader. And after recovering from the injury that ended his senior season at OU, the rookie’s getting an opportunity to play in the slot for the Detroit Lions.

By Mike Baldwin Modified: November 18, 2012 at 1:27 am •  Published: November 18, 2012
/articleid/3729758/1/pictures/1887299">Photo - Ryan Broyles Detroit WR
Ryan Broyles Detroit WR

“Ryan really understands how to get open versus zone coverage,” Detroit offensive coordinator Scott Linehan told the Detroit Free Press. “And he’s pretty sneaky against man coverage. Man’s pretty easy as far as you’re got a technique, now go win one-on-one. But zone is harder.”

After hs knee injury, Broyles rehabbed diligently before the April draft to prove that he was worthy of a high draft pick. He says the knee felt good throughout training camp.

Still, doctors told him it probably would take a calendar year to be close to 100 percent. He recently passed the Nov. 12 anniversary of that tearful day his knee gave out in a game against Texas A&M.

“I’m looking forward to what’s to come,” Broyles said. “The past is behind me. I’m trying to be as hungry as I can and work as hard as I can to make more plays.”

The 24-year-old Broyles made a ton of plays at OU. He owns most of the school’s receiving records. He established the NCAA mark for receptions (349). His 3,429 receiving yards are second-most in NCAA FBS history. Broyles also scored 35 touchdowns.

“He has great hands, is a great player and a great person,” said tight end Brandon Pettigrew, an OSU product and another one of the Lions’ offensive weapons. “You can get him the ball quick. He’s fast and can get downfield. He can pretty much do it all. His role will only increase every game. It’s a comfort thing. When he gets really comfortable, there’s no limit to what he can do.”

Broyles joined the Lions the year they were coming off a long-awaited playoff season. Detroit, though, faces a daunting challenge to return this season.

The Lions are 4-5 in the highly competitive NFC North, which features the Bears, Packers and resurgent Minnesota, a team led by former OU standout Adrian Peterson.

Detroit’s schedule is daunting. The Lions host reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Sunday and play AFC leader Houston on Thanksgiving Day.

“We have three straight home games,” Broyles said. “We just have to start chipping away. Coming off a playoff season, they don’t expect anything less than that.”

Even if Detroit doesn’t return to the playoffs, an offense led by quarterback Matthew Stafford and complemented by Johnson, Young, Pettigrew and Broyles should make the Lions a viable playoff contender in the foreseeable future.

“I think we’re the best pass offense in the league or in the top five for sure,” Broyles said. “We have a lot of weapons. We have guys to fit every role. We definitely have some playmakers. At the end of the day we all want the ball to make a play. That will really help us moving forward.”

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